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Applying Aviation Safety Principles to Healthcare

Reduce Preventable Errors and Improve Patient Outcomes with Proven Methods


The Overlap

Decades ago, the aviation industry experienced a human factors dilemma similar to the one medicine faces today. Preventable crashes were occuring because First Officers and Flight Engineers were hesitant to speak up or question the Captain. Communication was poor, standardization was a foreign concept, distractions were everywhere, and the Captain’s word was gospel.


Today, aviation enjoys the fantastic safety record that it does because of numerous practical safety programs that have been developed in response to the human factor problems that were contributing to these accidents. There is a crucial emphasis on utilizing resources and crewmembers more effectively, managing threats and errors properly, and communicating effectively and in more standardized methods.


These elegant programs have been tested and refined over decades and can be applied to any setting in which a team of people operate in a complex environment, like the operating room, a critical care unit, and labor and delivery floors. These human factor techniques require no major equipment or capital investment, yet have been shown to be extraordinarily effective in reducing preventable errors.

“The volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably. Knowledge has both saved us and burdened us”

-Autl Gawande, MD

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In the cruise at FL361, The modern world of Aviation.jpg

“Why do I love checklists? Because rather than letting my imagination run amok to my detriment, effective use of checklists allows me to direct my imagination to more productive purposes.”

— David Oberhettinger, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

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